CCINDLE’s Third Consortium Meeting and Second Feminist Democracy Lab in Belgium

The CCINDLE project held its third consortium meeting from 13-15 September, 2023 in the beautiful Antwerp in Belgium. For those three days, CCINDLE partners met and discussed the progress and challenges of the work packages at the University of Antwerp.

Jana Dilger presenting updates from Work Package 5

A clear highlight of the meetings was the second Feminist Democracy Lab which was organised at the University of Antwerp by Petra Meier and Rylan Verlooy from the Antwerp team. We invited activists based in Belgium who are predominantly active in the space of gender, LGBTQ+, and anti-racism – and around 25 activists joined us!

Different to the first Lab that took place earlier this year in Amsterdam, which included a more traditional panel set up, we trialled a new approach in Antwerp: After briefly introducing the CCINDLE project and each other, we kicked off smaller group discussions: Different rooms included different sets of questions to inspire a conversation – and everyone was free to choose between rooms and topics. Participants were also encouraged to move around between rooms to join other discussions whenever they felt like it. The smaller groups started talking and discussing the following questions:

➡ How is feminism – as a theory and practice – relevant to your activist and/or academic work? And what do we miss in feminism?

➡ How should we as academics and activists strengthen each other in our intersectional feminist and queer struggle? 

➡ With whom is solidarity hardest and why? And what are (new) ways to practice solidarity among us? 

➡ What opposition do you experience in your feminist academic/activist work? And what support do you need to further continue this work? 

➡ How does intersectionality inform your academic and/or activist work? How do we further improve intersectionality in our academic/activist work? 

Afterwards, we all joined together in the main room again. Following a loose and more casual format, participants could join a circle of chairs placed in the middle of the room if they wanted to contribute to a discussion – either by sharing their thoughts and ideas or by raising a question. Once they felt they had stated their points and contributed to the exchange, participants could simply leave the circle and change seats. The discussion continued to focus on solidarity between activists and academics – including the concept of care –, feminism as a practice, intersectionality in our activist/academic work, feminist, and queer futures. It was great to see how conversations often moved on to different but related topics in a more organic way.

The safety and well-being of the participants was a priority of the Lab. We wanted to create safe spaces to ensure that everyone felt safe and comfortable to share their thoughts, concerns, hopes, and experiences with us. This also meant that we did not take any photos during the Lab nor published the names or organisations of the activists that so kindly joined us.

After two hours of exchange, all activists were invited to join us for a joint dinner – where conversations continued.

By Jana Dilger